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WILPF Reviews Aisling Swaine’s “Conflict-related Violence Against Women”

Aisling Swaine is the author of the new book, Conflict-related Violence Against Women: Transforming Transition, and her research is helping to widen the discussion and context of gendered violence.

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WILPF International Secretariat
18 May 2018

Aisling Swaine is the author of the new book, Conflict-related Violence Against Women: Transforming Transition, and her research is helping to widen the discussion and context of gendered violence. Her novel explores the history of violence against women in three specific jurisdictions: Liberia, Northern Ireland and Timor-Leste. Expanding on meticulous research, Swaine thoroughly examines the context of this type of violence, considering and presenting both individual and international factors.

“This book,” she writes, “has identified a much broader range, form, functionality and character to [conflict-related violence against women] CRVW than acknowledged in the specific ‘weapon of war’ paradigm, or in approaches that treat [conflict-related sexual violence] CRSV as an episodic disruption to an otherwise peaceful landscape to women’s lives.”

Swaine’s rebuttal of the common presentation as CRVW as an isolated period of time is vastly important to the process of policymaking and peacekeeping by international bodies. She presents her information keeping careful consideration of the environmental, social and political influences on CRVW, an approach that is underutilised in typical debate around this subject.

Swaine’s breaking-down of the stratification of CRVW situations is of central importance to the novel. The delineation of instances of CRVW creates a strategy of reparation that is neither comprehensive nor preventative of future violence.

“Losing sight of the original aim of broadening what can be known and understood about conflict is regressive to the broader feminist project as well as to efforts to deepen understanding of periods of armed conflict,” Swaine explains. She further argues that developments in understanding violence in the context of gender should not be devalued in favour of type-casting moments of sexualised violence. “The research that underpins this book specifically,” she writes, “aimed to re-open that canvas and to bring gender and context-relevant and feminist analysis back to rapidly developing global responses to CRVAW.”

The body of information that Swaine has amassed is both quantitatively and qualitatively comprehensive. She has exactingly covered all bases in her work, and considered contemporary and relevant arguments.

Swaine’s book is unsurprisingly valuable to organisations like WILPF, who must constantly monitor the evolving discussion of women’s rights and gendered violence and the way in which these discussions affect global policy. But Conflict-related Violence Against Women, though certainly of an academic nature, is not destined to remain solely in this sphere. The book is incontrovertibly important to all processes and individuals involved in the progression of global women’s and human rights, and to achieving substantive comprehension of CRVW.

In short, as written in the book, “If transition and justice is to be transformative it would capture the harm that women experience, its meaning in context and why it holds a meaningful effect, and not just the violent act itself.”

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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